It could have been called “Ballardvale Springs,” Andover’s next proverbial field of dreams on a once-contaminated industrial site along the Shawsheen River that is better known by its prior owner, Reichhold, Inc.
But sluggish negotiations fell apart, and despite the town being authorized to spend nearly $1.8 million over the span of several years to buy the Lowell Junction Road land, it has gone to a private buyer.
Believe-Andover, LLC, based out of North Reading, bought the last remaining piece of the Reichhold property on Dec. 17 for $1.8 million. It was paid in part with a $1.35 million mortgage through the Reading Co-operative Bank, according to Registry of Deeds documents.
The purchase by the private investment group led by James T. Lynch is the latest chapter in the town’s more than decade-long history with the property.
With 33.5 acres around the site secured by the town in 2006, exclusive rights to buy the remaining 13 acres of land expired later that year as work to clean up contamination went forward.
Over the years, Town Meeting had approved spending $1,325,000 on the last piece of acreage. Then in May, voters at the annual Town Meeting agreed to the final allotment of $550,000 to seal the deal.
The Conservation Commission even voted on July 2 to call the site Ballardvale Springs “if and when we acquire the property,” according to meeting minutes.
John Oldham, Reichhold’s director of site remediation at the company’s North Carolina headquarters, said his team “worked hard to try to make that property part of the town. They’ve been given opportunities for years.”
“It just didn’t work out. It’s that simple,” Oldham said. “We finished the work that needed to be done and it was a good opportunity to sell the property. We took that opportunity and moved on.”